Former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger has heaped praise upon the Italian team’s decision to sign Lewis Hamilton for the 2025 season.
Hamilton will leave Mercedes following the end of the 2024 season, bringing to a close an 11-year partnership with the German team. The seven-time world champion will replace Carlos Sainz to partner Charles Leclerc, establishing arguably the strongest driver pairing on the grid.
“I have to congratulate Ferrari,” Berger, who spent six seasons with the Scuderia, told the Italian publication Corriere della Sera. “Hiring Hamilton seems to me the best decision ever. It’s a move I’ve been waiting for for a long time.
“Sometimes there is a need for an energetic change within a team. I am convinced that with Lewis, new skills, new technicians, a new way of making decisions will come to Maranello, driven by a motivation that everyone in the team will feel. Something similar to what happened when Schumacher arrived at Ferrari.”
It’s expected that Hamilton‘s move to Ferrari could result in an exodus of technical staff from Mercedes, with its performance director Loic Serra already rumoured to make the move to Maranello. Discussions are also ongoing as to whether Hamilton‘s race engineer Peter Bonnington will join the British driver at Ferrari.
In Berger’s view, Hamilton’s move to Ferrari could be revolutionary for the team — and not only in sporting terms.
“We are talking about the most important, consistent figure in modern Formula 1 not only in terms of results but also in terms of his following among fans,” said Berger.
“Lewis is a reference for a huge community that also includes people not entirely interested in racing. This puts him in a position unlike any other. If we combine this with the Ferrari brand, it means generating real power in financial terms as well.”
How will Leclerc fare as Hamilton’s teammate?
Hamilton joins Leclerc at Ferrari with the Monegasque having driven for the team since 2019. Leclerc agreed a contract extension in January with the team, so is set to drive alongside Hamilton until at least the end of 2027.
Berger believes that having Hamilton as a teammate will be a challenge for Leclerc, but one that the 26-year-old can use to demonstrate the full scope of his capabilities.
“In some respects Charles may feel some nervousness because Lewis is a consistent driver on every front,” said Berger. “He is strong politically, technically, and has super experience.
“On the other hand Leclerc is younger, he can find ways to travel on Hamilton‘s levels. Speed, no mistakes, strategy, tactics. All this will pose questions for him to answer.”
It will not be Leclerc‘s first time driving alongside a multiple-time World Champion. He partnered Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2019 and 2020, outperforming the four-time champion across both seasons in which they raced together.
“Similarly, partnering Hamilton at Mercedes will provide Leclerc with the opportunity to prove his abilities,” said Berger.
“When you want to be the best, you are forced to compare yourself with anyone. If Charles can beat Lewis – compete with or surpass him – he will get an extra boost of confidence, a new awareness.”